Spring 2016 - Tuesdays 12:30-1:45 - 203 Munroe Hall
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 ~ 12:30-1:45 pm
“German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic”
John M. Efron
University of California-Berkeley
Focusing on the period spanning the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century, this talk explores the special place German-Jewish culture accorded medieval Spanish Jewry. In a broad array of cultural forms and genres, a portrait emerged that promoted an image of Sephardim as attractive, morally and intellectually superior, and worthy of emulation while the culture and physical appearance of Ashkenazic Jewry was most frequently considered regrettable and in need of radical correction. Efron seeks to explain how the claims about the superiority of Sephardic aesthetics became a constitutive element of modern German-Jewish self-fashioning.
John M. Efron, the Koret Professor of Jewish History at UC-Berkeley, is the author of numerous books on Jewish History: Defenders of the Race: Jewish Doctors and Race Science in Fin-de-Siècle Europe (Yale University Press, 1994); Medicine and the German Jews: A History (Yale University Press, 2001); The Jews: A History, with Matthias Lehmann and Steven Weitzman (Prentice Hall, first edition 2009; second edition, 2013); and the co-editor of two volumes of essays. His most recent book, German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic, which Princeton UP published this year, will be subject of his talk.